VANCOUVER -- Just over half of Canadians are in favour of reinstating the death penalty in Canada as a punishment for murder, results from a new survey suggest.

The online survey from Research Co. found that 51 per cent of Canadians support reinstating capital punishment for murder. Support for reintroducing the death penalty was highest among Canadians 55 and older with 56 per cent in favour.

The survey's results, released on Tuesday, also looked at support among Americans for the death penalty and found 59 per cent of those surveyed supported the possibility of prosecutors relying on capital punishment for murder cases.

While 54 per cent of B.C. residents polled support the reinstatement of the death penalty, 37 per cent were opposed to its return.

"A sizeable majority of Canadians who are in favour of the return of the death penalty (57 per cent) believe it would save taxpayers money and the costs associated with having murderers in prison," said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co. "In the United States, only 43 per cent of supporters of capital punishment feel the same way."

Among those who were opposed, 73 per cent of Canadians surveyed cited the possibility that a person could be wrongly convicted and executed as the main reason for their opposition. For those in favour, 60 per cent of those surveyed said the death penalty as punishment fit the crime for taking a life.

The death penalty was eliminated in Canada in 1976.

When Canadians were asked about their personal view on the death penalty, about 27 per cent said they believed it was "never appropriate" compared to 18 per cent of Americans.

Results were gathered through an online study conducted from Feb. 7 to 9 among 1,000 Canadian adults. The American survey was conducted from Feb. 6 to 8 and also involved 1,000 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.